A trial court in Toba Tek Singh in April, 2014 handed death sentence to an uneducated poor Christian couple accused of texting blasphemous messages to local Muslims in Gojra, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Advocate Nadeem Hassan, who represented Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, in court, told Pakistan Today that Additional Sessions Judge Mian Amir Habib had announced the death sentence under “great pressure” even though the prosecution had failed to present any concrete evidence against the couple.
The case [FIR No. 407/13] against Shafqat, a 43-year-old crippled man, and his wife Shagufta, a cleaner at a local missionary school, was registered on June 20, 2013 by the Gojra City Police Station under sections 295-B and 295-C of the blasphemy law and 25-D of The Telegraph Act of 1985 which recommends a maximum of three years for intentionally “causing annoyance”.
They were accused of sending blasphemous text messages to the complainants Muhammad Hussain and Tehsil Bar Association President Anwar Mansoor Goraya from a number allegedly registered in the name of Shagufta on June 18, 2013. The couple was taken into custody on June 20 and sent to the Toba Tek Singh District Jail the next day.
“The police failed to recover the SIM [Subscriber Identity Module] allegedly registered in Shagufta’s name from the couple’s possession. The police just produced a receipt of a cellular company on which Shagufta’s national identity card number was written against the number,” the lawyer said, adding that the police had earlier claimed that Hussain’s call data revealed that the messages had been sent from Shagufta’s cell phone number.
Hassan said that during the preliminary investigation Shagufta had told the police that her cell phone had been lost for a month, and that she did not know who might have sent the alleged messages. Nevertheless, the Gojra City Police detained the couple, along with their four minor children, and pressured them to name someone who could have sent the messages.
Hassan said that in order to placate the mobs led by some Islamist clerics, the police forced Shagufta’s husband Shafqat to confess that he had sent the blasphemous messages.